Monday, March 9, 2009

Review: Superman:World Of New Krypton #1

The 'year without Superman' on Earth officially began last week with the first issue of Superman:World of New Krypton, written by Greg Rucka and James Robinson and drawn by Pete Woods.

This first chapter was a good beginning, telling up a lot about Kryptonian culture and Kal's place on New Krypton.

The tone is a bit more somber than the Gary Frank cover conveys. Here Superman is grinning with his arms out, practically embracing his native world. But we know the story leading into this isn't so sunny. Kal has issues with Alura, with Zod, with how the Kryptonians have been acting on Earth.

Those feelings are much better conveyed on this variant cover by Ladronn.

Look at how small Superman is on this cover. I think thematically this cover evokes two feelings. One it shows that on New Krypton, Kal-El is Kal-El, not Superman. He is not the larger than life figure he is on Earth; he is just an average man here.

But I also get a sense loneliness. Despite the bustling happening in the periphery of the cover, Superman is surrounded, engulfed really, by negative space. He is a stranger here, isolated. This cover better fits the mood.

The book starts with Superman's arrival on New Krypton. Alura reminds him that if he wants to stay on New Krypton he needs to completely renounce Earth and all its ways. He accepts.

Look at how happy Alura is. She is a very tough character to read. I really thank she has been scarred by her time on Brainiac's ship, by the loss of Zor-El. She acts like she has her people's best intentions at heart but her methods seem so deluded.

But this smiling Alura is so different than the angry Alura that told Superman he was unwelcome on the planet initially. It is hard to jibe those two unless you say she is psychologically unstable with labile moods.

One of the first things that Kal-El has to decide on New Krypton is which guild he will belong to. His father was in the science guild. His mother was in the labor guild. But there are others: the military guild, the artist guild, etc.

A member of the labor guild is assigned to escort Kal around New Krypton, taking him to a meeting with Zod.

The members of the labor guild appear to be more like slaves. It is interesting that Lara was a member of this guild.

Something I did like was the creative team associating different version of Kryptonian garb from comic history with the different guilds. For example, the Byrne outfits are worn by the science guild.
The caste system seems to bother Superman. It certainly isn't the American Way to have a whole section of society treated as slaves. We even learn that the labor guild has no voice in politics. This member seems to be resigned, maybe even content, with his role in life.

But Kal is reminded of the troubled past of America and the Civil War that erupted. My guess is that, in the end, Kal becomes something of a rallying figure for the labor guild maybe even leading them to further rights.

On arrival to the military guild's headquarters, Superman is attacked immediately by Non. The fight is short with Superman disposing of Zod's henchman pretty quickly.

He then shows the rest of the military troops that while they are still learning how to use their powers that he has had a lifetime of training. So if any of them are thinking of trying to face off with him they should be ready for a fight.
Finally we see Zod.

Zod actually compliments Kal on his strength and experience, noting that he should help train the troops.

The conversation is civil if not brusque. Zod again states that he has no interest in Earth now that he has a New Krypton to protect. Superman isn't so sure.

And Kal certainly looks concerned when he is denied even a glimpse of 'Chris' Lor-Zod.

Could Zod be trying to brainwash/re-educate 'Chris' to reject what he learned on Earth?

Superman goes back to Alura. I noticed that Alura's garb is more akin to a military uniform now than the flowing dresses she has been seen in before. Has she switched to the military guild? Can you switch guilds? Or is your lot in life determined early on.

When pressed on which guild he will choose, Superman initially chooses none. He finds the fact that slavery is allowed in Kryptonian culture distasteful. After all, he was raised to strive for truth and justice.

Alura quickly reminds him that whatever his Earth upbringing, he is on Krypton now. He needs to be in a guild and if he doesn't choose one then one will be chosen for him. It is something of a power play by Alura but if Superman has 'renounced' Earth to stay on Krypton, he needs to be part of this new culture.

He decides the military guild, working side by side with General Zod. While his skills may be best served in the military guild, I think this is more of a 'keep your enemies closer' plan by Kal.
Overall I thought this was a good issue to begin this mini-series. The writers needed to set the stage. We know little of Kryptonian culture. This tour of the guilds and this understanding of society's norms on New Krypton is crucial to the reader. We need to see how Superman is reacting to the ways of his native world.

Of course, this isn't a class on Kryptonian history. We also need to see what plans Alura and Zod have for ruling this place, for interacting with Earth. With that in the background, I like the fact that Kal decided on the military guild. What better place to obtain important information.

I really enjoyed Pete Woods art here. It seemed less rushed than his work on the last few issues he had done in the 'New Krypton' story arc.
Overall grade: B


TalOs said...

Man I loved this here 1st issue! :D

Especially Alura's new look, which would make one hell of sweet Supergirl outfit if modified a tad wee bit for Kara instead.

As for "Tyr-Van" I have this theory..

what if Superman's parents DIDN'T die after all and they actually managed to survive ancient Krypton's destruction by entering in to the SURVIVAL ZONE itself, which latter had them viewing "New Krypton" through it undetected by Allura even herself, and what if during there time IN the survival Zone Lara had had a actual SECOND son who upon emerging out of the Survival Zone takes on the name "Tyr-Van" (instead of "Tyr-El") who has willingly volunteered to scout "New Krypton" in order to see as to whether or not it's safe for his mother and father to now emerge out of the Zone so in turn both Jor-El and Lara can be reunited with their first born Kal-El after Tyr's own meeting his own biological elder brother?

Now THAT would be HUGE in my honest opinion! And remember, Greg Rucka himself said that Tyr-Van is the apparently one to be watching in this all. ;)

It seems that apart from different guild dressing "New Krypton" is actually a lot like Earth more then their even willing to admit, heh.

Now exactly what was up with Alura's tone come mentioning of Lara-El, it was almost as if she really didn't like her or something. Although that could just be the green K radiation in Alura talking instead? :/

Alas, poor Lor-Zod/"Chris Kent", I mean if "Last Son" arc is anything to go by one shudders to imagine as to how Zod and Ursa are treating him like now! (I mean frickin' Ursa was more then willing to literally KILL her own flesh and blood at one stage!) Poor poor Lor. Here's at least praying his back on E-0 as the all new Nightwing instead. (That is, if the new Nightwing isn't Kon-El/Connor Kent/Superboy.)

P.S. Anj,

seriously no disrespect intended but you might want go over and rectify some spelling mistakes made in this here review ah.

Gene said...

I wonder which guild Supergirl belongs to?

Heath Edwards said...

yay, we begin!! i can't wait to find out more about krypton. a most fascinating place indeed...
i quite like the idea of guilds. its a pity it seems to have quite a lot to do with social status, but if it hadn't, it seems like quite an idea... i thought it interesting, too, that lara has been put in the labour guild. cross-guild relationships were probably looked down on, too. i wonder if the whole family of el had weird feelings towards jor-el's immediate family. as talos points out, alura does seems a bit frosty when mentioning lara...

Anj said...

what if Superman's parents DIDN'T die after all and they actually managed to survive ancient Krypton's destruction by entering in to the SURVIVAL ZONE itself

Thanks for the post.

Intriguing idea. But sounds a bit too revolutionary to the Superman origin.

I do think this is going to be a great mini-series though.

And thanks for letting me know about the typos. I was rushing to get the review up and must have not noticed.

Anj said...

i thought it interesting, too, that lara has been put in the labour guild. cross-guild relationships were probably looked down on, too. i wonder if the whole family of el had weird feelings towards jor-el's immediate family. as talos points out, alura does seems a bit frosty when mentioning lara...

Thanks for the post.

I agree that 'crossing guilds' was probably frowned on. Would Jor-El marrying her be the same as a slave owner marrying a slave? Is that why Alura seems icy?

Hopefully we learn more about Kal's parents over the year.

Anonymous said...

Well, the mini is off to a good start...but I'm concerned that exiling Superman from his core books will drop sales to the point where DC will panic and bring this storyline (intriguing though it is) to a premature conclusion.
Which does hold out the possibility that if the writing and artwork stays strong on Supergirl's book that Kara might at last get the sales and popularity props she richly deserves.
As for Kara's guild, I'm guessing she is too young to have one assigned as yet (notice that, guild membership is assigned, it's no personal decision on anyone's part, no wonder Krypton blew up!).
Otherwise the way her mother treats her one suspects the existence of a traumatized and overburdened teenaged daughters guild.

John Feer